Michael Rosenthal

Possibilities suddenly abound for resurgent Morales

Most of us figured that Marcos Maidana would beat the you know what out of Erik Morales in their junior welterweight fight last Saturday in Las Vegas, thus forcing the aging future Hall of Famer to call it quits permanently.

Now, after Morales’ inspirational performance in defeat, possibilities abound.

“Erik really turned back the clock,” said Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, Morales’ promoter. “I’m happy for him. We have some things in store for him. We’re actually going to sit down with him next week and see what he wants to do. There are different possibilities. He might pursue a title at 135 pounds. That’s one thing he said. He might want a rematch with Maidana. I’ve read that (Marco Antonio) Barrera is interested. He has no ties to anybody right now. We may pursue that.

“He mentioned Amir Khan as well. There are a lot of interesting possibilities because of the fact he turned back the clock."

Very few experts gave Morales much of a chance against Maidana given the evidence, a string of losses that led to his retirement, two-plus years off and so-so performances in three fights against journeymen during his comeback.

However, he proved he’s far from finished at 34 by almost beating one of the most-feared fighters in the world.

Schaefer said the performance should serve as a lesson for so-called experts in the media.

“Taking a couple of years off apparently was a smart thing,” Schaefer said. “And as time progressed [in his comeback] he got better and better. Now the fans can’t wait for Morales to fight again. And this time hopefully he’ll get a bit more respect from those in the media who trashed him.

“… Sometimes people can be a bit harsh. I think you should give great fighters their due. You can never count them out. Bernard Hopkins has proven that over and over."

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Schaefer has a lot of work ahead of him.

In addition to Morales, he’ll have to sit down with Maidana, Robert Guerrero and James Kirkland in the coming weeks to chart their futures.

Maidana’s victory was lost in the drama of Morales’ performance. The Argentine did bounce back from his unanimous-decision loss to Khan in December by winning a majority decision.

So he remains in the hunt for big fights.

“Maidana very much remains a factor,” Schaefer said. “Maybe he’ll have a rematch with Morales. Maybe if (Lucas) Matthysse beats (Devon) Alexander (on June 25), we can have an all-Argentina showdown between two of the hardest punchers in the division. What a fight that would be.

"There a lot of possibilities. All I know is, with Maidana, whoever he fights there will be fireworks.”

Everyone was impressed with the performance of Guerrero, who turned what was supposed to be a competitive matchup against Michael Katsidis on the Maidana-Morales undercard into a showcase of his considerable talent.

Schaefer reiterated that he believes Guerrero can compete anywhere from 135 pounds – the weight at which he fought Katsidis – to 147.

“Robert took his career to a different level with that victory,” he said. “I think he is a force to be reckoned with, not only at that weight [135 pounds] but also 140 and even at 147 as well. The guy is the total package. He told me some names he’d like to fight. And one was Floyd Mayweather. I think he has the right style for Floyd. He’s smart, he has a good chin.

“All I know is he wants a big fight and I want to deliver that. We’ll sit down with his team in the coming weeks. We already met with HBO. They’re thrilled to have him back soon.”

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Golden Boy officials were disappointed with the fate of James Kirkland, who was stopped in one round by light-punching Nobuhiro Ishida on the Maidana-Morales undercard.

Kirkland, recently released from prison, was unbeaten and an extremely hot prospect when things went wrong.

Schaefer said his company still believes in the former contender.

“We feel he’ll be back,” he said. “We think he might’ve been overconditioned; he may have lost too much weight too quickly. He needs to take a couple of steps back and then go forward again.”

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Schaefer said his efforts to keep Juan Manuel Marquez in the fold are ongoing.

Marquez appears to be distancing himself from Golden Boy to increase his chances of fighting Manny Pacquiao, who is promoted by Golden Boy rival Top Rank. Marquez’s contract with Golden Boy expired in February but Schaefer reportedly has the right to match any offer through February of 2012.

 “We’re still negotiating with him,” Schaefer said. “We’ll see if it leads somewhere. As I’ve said before, we have an existing contract that gives us rights through February of 2012 and we intend to exercise those rights.”

Schaefer was asked whether he would even consider stepping aside so Marquez could fight Pacquiao before the contract expires.

“We won’t step aside for anybody,” he said. “If they want to do the Pacquiao fight, that’s great. Let’s sit down and negotiate as adults and come up with a fair deal. That’s the end of it.

“It’s childish to say, ‘He can only fight if he’s with us.’ We’re not playing into those hands.”

Schaefer has proposed that Marquez fight Zab Judah in his next fight as part of what would be a new promotional deal.

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